Herod the Great Brother

Phasael was the Brother of Herod the Great. Furthermore, Phasael was born during the Hasmonean Kingdom reigns Judea to a Jewish aristocratic family of Edomite descent. Moreover, His father, Antipater the Idumaean, was the close advisor of the Hasmonean king Hyrcanus II. And his mother, Cypros was a Nabatean princess. Moreover, Phasael was the elder brother of Herod the Great which was quite close.

Both Phasael and Herod launch their careers under their father, Antipater; who was appointed procurator of Judea for the Roman Republic by Julius Caesar. Then Antipater appoints Phasael to be governor of Jerusalem; and Herod governor of Galilee.

Phasael: Antipater’s Assassination

After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Antipater was forced to side with Cassius against Mark Antony. When Cassius came to Syria to collect troops, he began to demand harsh tributes. So much so that some entire cities and city curators were sold into slavery. Cassius demanded seven hundred talents out of Judea, so Antipater split the cost between his two sons. One aristocrat tasked with collecting tribute was Malichus I, who disdained Antipater and enraged Cassius by not collecting with haste. However, Antipater saved Malichus from death by expending one hundred talents of his own and placating Cassius’ anger.

Although Antipater saved Malichus’ life a second time from a different ruler, Malichus continued to despise Antipater and seek his murder. Josephus presents two opposing reasons, one which would help secure Hyrcanus against the rising threat of Herod, and the other being his desire to quickly dispose of Hyrcanus and take power himself. He devised multiple assassination attempts which Antipater evaded, but successfully bribed one of Hyrcanus’ cup-bearers to poison and kill Antipater

While Mark Antony was in Bithynia about 41 BCE, accusations were brought before him against the two brothers, who were objects of hatred to many Jews. But the shrewd Herod succeeded in obtaining the dismissal of the charges. It was impossible, however, for the Sanhedrin to rest content with the administrations of Herod and Phasael. And charges were again brought against them before Antony at Antioch. Once more the accusations proved to be fruitless, for Antony was indebted to Antipater, while even the weak Hyrcanus II pleaded for them. This led Antony to appoint the pair of tetrarchs.

Revolt of Antigonus the Hasmonean and Phasael’s Downfall

Meanwhile, Antigonus the Hasmonean endeavored to seize the Jewish throne; and in Jerusalem, there were frequent conflicts between his retainers and those of the two brothers; which were especially perilous on the Jewish Feast of Shavuot. So Phasael defended the walls, and Herod the palace, thus routing their antagonists, whereupon Antigonus invoked the aid of the Parthian Empire.

In spite of Herod’s warning, Phasael allowed himself to be lured with Hyrcanus to the camp of the Parthian leader Barzapharnes under the pretext of peace talks. Both Hyrcanus and Phasael were imprisoned. Then they were handed over to Antigonus; who caused Hyrcanus to be mutilated; a disgrace which Phasael escaped by dashing out his own brains; having the satisfaction of knowing before he died that his brother Herod had escaped from Jerusalem and was safe.

Tower of David in Jerusalem

The Tower of David is the northeast tower of the Citadel of Jerusalem. It has been identified as either the Phasael Tower or the Hippicus Tower described by Josephus. The towers named Phasael, Hippicus, and Mariamne were situated in the northwest corner of the so-called First Wall, the Hasmonean and Herodian city wall protecting the Western Hill of Jerusalem. They were situated close to where the Jaffa Gate is today and were built by Herod the Great at the same time he built his immediately adjacent royal palace. These towers protected the main entrance to the city, as well as the palace, constituting a potential last refuge for the king. All three towers have vanished except for the base of the Hippicus (or Phasael) Tower, upon which the present “Tower of David” rests.


Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

Did you know the Hoopoe is Israel's national bird?! For more cool info about Israel, join our ever growing community and get exclusive travel tips, and giveaways!

Simon Peter


Bar Giora (Organization)

Bar Giora was a secret Jewish self-defense organization and the precursor of Hashomer. Furthermore, the organization operated in Israel (Ottoman Palestine) from September 1907 to ...

The Creation of the Nabataean Kingdom

The Creation of the Nabataean Kingdom is an amazing story in the chronicles of the Land of Israel. This post is about the Nabataean Arabs.

Siege of Masada

The siege of Masada was one of the final events in the Jewish Roman War occurring on 73 CE on a large hilltop at the Judean Desert, Dead Sea.

Which Is the Capital of Israel

Which Is the Capital of Israel? Well, my answer, in short, would be, depends on who you ask I guess if you want the longer answer click here!

Straton’s Tower

Straton’s Tower was the Hellenistic city the preceded Caesarea. The Phoenician city, Stratonos Pyrgos (English: Straton’s Tower), is known largely because Herod the Great built Caesarea ...

The Decline Nabataean Kingdom

This post is meant describe the decline Nabataean Kingdom. So around the 7th-8th century CE, a glorious episode of the Land of Israel had come ...

Tel Aviv: The City That Rose from the Sand

Get to know Tel Aviv which is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline and is the economic and technological center of the country.

The Pre-IDF Brigades: Haganah, Irgun, and Lehi

The Haganah, Irgun, and Lehi were the three semi-militaristic organizations that formed the IDF if you want more, click here!

Herod Agrippa King of Judea

Herod Agrippa was the last Jewish King over the Kingdom of Judea. To Pick up from our last post, our Story stopped at the moment ...

Khosrow II: The Last Sasanian King

The last Sasanian King is Khosrow II. He was the last great King of the Sassanian Empire. He was reigning from 590 to 628 CE. ...

Need help?